Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Our twin boys just got these Nerf guns for Christmas. They decided to do a little dress-up with a couple of their siblings. Our daughter, Braaten, who is not pictured, is the budding photographer that captured this picture.

"Go ahead... make my day!"

Go here for more "Wordless Wednesdays"...

Monday, December 29, 2008

Fun in Wales!

Between Christmas and New Years, Shawn usually takes time off from work. We spend a lot of time preparing for Christmas & Grant and Cooper's birthdays, doing minor repairs around the house, and spending lots and lots of time together doing fun things as a family. We thought it would be a good opportunity to take a couple of day trips in the U.K. as well.

A couple of days ago, we decided to to drive to Wales and walk on some trails and then get a bite to eat. But in the span of just 3 or 4 hours we were able to do and see so much. We are really thankful for the opportunity the Lord has graciously given us. Anyone reading this that knows me well, you are invited to come and visit us in England anytime and we'll take you to see some magnificent places. Seriously!  

It's as if Shawn is saying look at the beauty of this place. 

We did some climbing and walking on trails in a place someone in our Google search called the "Blue Lagoon". I guess if you walk enough, you eventually get to a peak and when you look down, you see a brilliant blue body of water. We didn't see it, but we sure tried.

Check out those earmuffs. Hey, I'm not too proud. It was really windy up on these hills.

Oh yes I did climb up there. I later asked Shawn if he thought I would do it, and he didn't think I would. 

The kids were getting tired, but they really enjoyed this journey.

I'm not sure what you call all that stuff they are laying in, but it was warm and comfy the kids said. It made for some cute photo ops, too.

This restaurant, the Corn Mill was booked solid, so we could not eat there. What a disappointment; it smelled so good in there. 

I really appreciate buildings and rooftops. Here are a few, including the building above.

This is an old train depot.

The town of Llangollen. It is not pronounced the way it looks. What a quaint little village.

This is one of my favoite photos. 

My happy bunch!

Tomorrow we are taking another day trip and it's my job to find that place. It's 10 pm and I'm busy blogging instead of googling. You know how it is...you just have to blog sometimes. :-)

Blessings! Carol

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Nice, Relaxing Soak

Tonight after getting our dear children into bed, I thought a bath sounded really nice, especially since the tub was already full. Each of the kids took a bath one at a time, except for the twins who usually get in the tub together. Under normal circumstances the bath water would no longer be appealing. To tell you the truth, it didn't look half bad. So I decided to add lots of hot water making it much more relaxing for me. 

Let me back up a bit, though. About an hour before bed, and right after one of the twins (Grant) got out of the tub, he ran to me saying, "Mom, Fletch pooped". I said, "What?" He proceeded to repeat himself while laughing. Then said, "Just kidding, it's just this.". To which I said, "What?" again. He ran over and grapped the phantom poop to show me. It turned out to be a toilet paper roll all wadded up into a small pile. 

OK, now back to my relaxing bath. I had all the essentials...body gels, sprays, shampoo, soap, & music. But as I somewhat reluctantly got into the partially cloudy water, I thought, this will be nice. As I got comfortable, I felt some things floating around.  Oh, that can't be good. I fished one of them out of the water, and it appreared to be a piece of a toilet paper roll thingy. Hmm...this is where the boys made their little creation. 

I have never taken such a quick bath as that! I could not lay there, listening to music and trying to relax, while floaties were all around me. I washed up and jumped out. And here is what it looked like before and after I emptied the tub. 

My little waterproof radio/cd player.

Toilet paper cardboard in my bath!

Ugh! It was worth the try, pampering myself a little. 

Those twins are something else! I did get a good chuckle out of it. 

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Double Blessing All The Way!!

I have never liked when people call twins "Double Trouble". They are absolutely a blessing to us. 

Grant and Cooper turned 7 yesterday on Christmas Eve. Seven years ago, we were pleasantly surprised when I went into labor on the morning of that special day. A week before that I went into false labor, checked into the hospital and got hooked up to all the monitors, only to be sent home.

No babies.

So when I started having contractions on December 24th first thing that day, my dear husband found it difficult to believe it was the real deal. As my midwife had instructed before, she said I should take a warm bath and drink lots of water. That usually calms things down and if it is, in fact, Braxton Hicks, then it will stop. I did just that... and the contractions continued. I layed down to rest and thought that would settle those little guys down. Nada. My husband started to get that look on his face. You know the one that is filled with awe, excitement, fear, compassion, the whole works- because our family would be expanding in mere hours from that point. 

It was time to call our midwife, Roxy. She told us to come into the hospital and she would meet us there. I originally had intended to have a water birth until we found out we were expecting twins. (I only found this out at 20 weeks of pregnancy at the untrasound!), and Roxy informed us that we could not do a water birth with a twin pregnancy. I was bummed, but boy was I excited about being blessed with two babies in my womb. It was all worth it. I also could not have them at home they told me. My midwife worked with a group of both doctors and midwives and they usually do multiple births in the hospital with a doctor close by in case of any complications. I was ok with all of that, AND I wanted an epidural on top of it. That's not the typical patient of a midwife. Usually you want to go natural all the way, but by the time #'s 4 and 5 were coming along, I was a total chicken. Give me some medicine, pleeaaaaase.

Later on that day, and after being given the epidural, our boys Grant Matthew (6 lbs. 7 oz.) and, Cooper Nathaniel (7 lbs. 3 oz.) were born at 5:15 pm and 5:27 pm. I had them at 36 and a half weeks. They were healthy, sweet boys. I was able to nurse them for about 6 months along with supplementing them with formula. Our church, at the time, got a nanny for us for 2 weeks and friends and family brought meals for that length of time. It was wonderful.

So here they are...

Grant and Cooper last year at this time when they were 6.

Just a year later and almost 7 at this point.

This is when we were in NY.

This is their cousin, Marqus, who turned 7 in September.

Cooper, Braaten, and Grant. She's a great big sister who gives them lots of attention.

Grant playing on the Wii Fit.

Cooper tasting a Christmas cookie.

Grant eating lunch.

Several years have gone by, and these guys have a bond that cannot be broken. They absolutely adore one another. They do just about everything together and it's fun to watch them. Every child is a true gift from God and having two come at once is as I mentioned in the beginning...a double blessing.

That's the story of our identical twins that I have been meaning to post for over a month. I had been introducing each child on my blog, and finally was up to them. What better a time to do it than around their 7th birthday.

Happy Birthday, Boys!!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sentimental Ornaments & Christmas Decorations

I love this time of year! Whenever it's time to pull out all the many Christmas boxes, it never fails to bring back sweet memories of the past. Sometimes it can be a little painful, too, if you've lost a loved one or there is some kind of past hurt.

I want to focus on all the goodness that Christmas brings by sharing some of my most cherished ornaments and places in our home that bring a smile to my face. I hope it brings some joy to you as well. 

Here are Mom and Dad. They both passed away in the summer of 2004 exactly one month apart (6/24 & 7/24). That was awful! My sister, Tracey, found a place that makes these ornaments and made one for each one of us, her 4 sisters and brother. Knowing her generous, giving heart, she also made one for my cousin and my Aunt Judy. 

It means a lot to me to have it on our tree each year. 

On a lighter note, these are the nutcrackers I like to collect. I haven't seen any in England, unfortunately, to add to my collection. Just wait 'til I get back, I'm gettin' one for each year I am here. :-)

My sweet sister, Cindy, sent this one to us just last week. We loved receiving her package to find this adorable Santa and a gift for each of our children. He sits on the left side of our fireplace.

I found this tree at Hobby Lobby last year, one of my favorite stores.

Would you like to join me in a cup of tea?

This nativity scene is by Jim Shore. I have some of his other pieces as well. Since I'm a quilter, I especially love it because of all the patterns on each figure.

Braaten and Melanie did a fantastic job decorating this table in the living room.

Here is another "Jim Shore" collectible. 

Braaten picked this ornament out at Cracker Barrel when we were in Michigan last month.
We let each of our children pick one new ornament a year.

I may have posted this one already. Each stocking has our picture on it. I forgot to update our pictures this year.

Such a sweet little nativity. 

Braaten loves horses. I found this in the "Current" catalog last year.

Each year a few friends and I give each other an "Aunty Bag". It's filled with all kinds of goodies like Christmas socks, favorite coffee, picture frames, snowmen, coffee mugs, Lindt chocolate, etc. While I was home, they surprised me with Aunty Bags. Because they were so generous, I can't exactly remember who gave me this special ornament. I think it was Lizzy. 

Christmas is all about hope because of Jesus' birth and eventual death on the cross. He came for you and for me. I am entirely grateful that he drew me to himself when I was 26 and has forever changed me. 

Merry Christmas! Love you all!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Christmas Card Carousel

I thought this was a great idea that Faith came up with. It was supposed to be done yesterday, but I just had to post it anyway.

All of these pictures were taken in Lake Garda, Italy. We took a trip there from England via France and Switzerland. We were able to see so many beautiful places along the way.

Thanks for stopping by and have a Merry Christmas
from our family to yours!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mud Dog!

Oh, isn't he precious?? He loves just laying around, getting all the attention from the kids and everything. He plays with his toys, looks forward to treats,  & anticipates Shawn getting home from work because that's his buddy. But, of course, I take him for walks everyday around the dam. We met a friend named Shirley, who also takes her dog, Buster, so they can play together. 

But here's the thing. He loves the water, the dirt, looking up trees to find unsuspecting birds and squirrels, and just running around free as a bird as it were. That all adds up to me having to practically bath him on a daily basis. Take a look at him enjoying his surroundings...

Yoo-hoo, Birdy, where are you? Come down and play with me, Squirrel. OK, maybe not. I'll just leave then...

Take a dip in the water in the middle of winter... no problem.

Or dig for rabbits, moles, hedgehogs. I'm not picky!

And then this is what I look like at the end of my walks with Mom. He's loving life. Just thought I'd share. Sigh... :-)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Friends Forever

It has been said that blogging can be time-consuming. Time-consuming? Now that's an understatement for this particular post. It took me forever to sort it all out because of the way pictures are posted through Blogger. If you read the body of this post below the pictures first, the photos will make more sense. I meant for it to be at the top, but I could not, for the life of me, get it to work that way. 

Annette and I
We haven't taken many pictures together over the years. I'm treasuring this one!

Annette, Carol, Mayra, Celia, and Natasha

Carol & Shawn, Mayra, Celia in the front with Steve behind her, Quentin & Annette in the back row, and Jim and Natasha in the front on the right

Annette, Mayra, and Carol


Braaten, Melanie, & Ava (Mayra's daughter)

Matthew at his computer, Austin, & Grant

Ava, Melanie, & Cooper

There's nothing like a hug between friends!

Jim & Mini-me, I mean Jimmy (Natasha's son)

Melanie & Elizabeth (Natasha's daughter)

Braaten & Victoria (Natasha's oldest)

Here's the frost-bitten, sweet bunch of them!

Annette and I have been friends since the 4th grade. Growing up in Hoboken oftentimes means that you grow up in an apartment building, which gives you opportunities to have a lot of friends that live closeby. You can't get much closer than this. We both lived on the 2nd floor: Apt 4B is where her family lived and 8B was ours. That's just 4 doors down! How convenient is that? 

So after having a great time with my family, we drove to Annette's home in Waldwick, NJ. Everytime we get together, it's as if no time has passed. It's warm and comfortable.

God has put many great friends in my life, both near and far, since that friendship started in the fourth grade. He brought Celia, Mayra, and Natasha in my life in high school and college.

Celia was in my high school home room class. She sat right next to me in the 9th grade when she was transferred to Hoboken High School. We became fast friends and have never looked back. Recently with moves across the country and raising children, we lost touch for several years. Meeting at Annette's house was a reunion for us and a tearful one at that. Somehow we let circumstances get between us and my plan is to never let that happen again. Like I said in my last post, God made us for relationship. Ultimately with Him first and foremost. He also provides earthly relationships to build one another up. 

Mayra and I went to high school together but didn't know each other. It's when I was a sophomore in college that Mayra came to the same college for her freshman year. That's where our friendship blossomed. She and I have been very close since that time and were pregnant at the same time: me with my twins, Grant and Cooper, and her with Ava Nicole. Whenever I go home, we always get together. She even came out to Michigan to visit us with Annette and Quentin a few years ago. She's a hardworking, single mom.

Natasha and I went to college together, too, and I met her the same year as Mayra. She and I were in the pre-chiropractic program at Bloomfield College for a few years. We also studied in Iowa for about a year as well. After that long, hard journey studying, we both settled in New Jersey for a time raising young families. We had the pleasure of joining a MOPS group as well. Then I had to up and move to Michigan! Time and distance has not gotten in the way of our special friendship. 

After our visit over at Annette's we then headed to the airport booked on a plane to Detroit. We were off to see friends in Michigan. Our time there will be in my next post. Stay tuned...:-)